GEORGE P. WILDER                                   

The Chanute Daily Tribune, May 19, 1911

Died:  May 18, 1911















His Store Has Occupied One Site

Forty Years, and One Building

Thirty-Four Years.—He Helped

Governor Reeder Escape

From Border




  George P. Wilder for fifty-six years a resident of Kansas and the dean of Chanute’s pioneer businessmen, died at his home, 17 North Forest avenue last evening after a two week’s illness.  Mr. Wilder was taken to his bed May 6th and his condition grew steadily worse from that time.  The end came quietly at 6:45 o’clock.

  The physicians attribute the cause of death to a general breakdown and a complication of diseases.  Two years ago tomorrow Mr. Wilder was operated upon for gall stones.  He recovered from the operation but it was a heavy drain on his vitality.

  The funeral services will be held at the home this evening at 8 o’clock.  The Masons will have charge and the pall-bearers, picked from the local lodge, will accompany the body to Lawrence in the morning for burial.  Rev. H. G. Mathis, pastor of the Presbyterian church will conduct the funeral services this evening.

  Mr. Wilder had been in business here longer than any other man in the city.  When the old town of Tioga was founded, Mr. Wilder was connected with it.  He came here in 1871 and opened a drug store for B. W. Woodard & Co. of Lawrence, Kansas, soon becoming proprietor and owner of the business.

  His place of business has been at the corner of Main and South Grant avenue for forty years.  The frame building which he originally occupied was moved away six years ago to make room for the handsome two-story block which Mr. Wilder erected as more in keeping with the progress of the city.

  He took a great interest in public affairs, and was a member of the city council for eighteen months.  He took much pride in his home, which occupies a half block on Forest avenue, north of Main street, and until his strength failed he spent much of his time outside business hours beautifying it.

  Mr. Wilder was 66 years old.  He was born in Boston, Mass., December 20, 1844.  His parents came to Kansas in 1855, when he was a lad.  His father died in Lawrence in 1868 and his mother died there in 1875.

  He had been in Kansas fifty-six years and had seen many violent political storms roll over the state, witnessed many changes and been cognizant of much bloodshed.  He had also seen the Sunflower state right itself, overcome all turbulence, settle down into a law abiding state as there is in the Union, and become as rich, if not the richest, of all the states.

  Soon after his arrival in Kansas Mr. Wilder took part in a historic incident.  He drove the buggy in which Governor A. H. Reeder left Lawrence after he had been indicted by a grand jury for treason and his arrest ordered.  The governor went from Lawrence to Fish, where he took a stage to Kansas City.

  The other member of the party was Mrs. Eldrede, prominent among the pioneers of Lawrence in the troublous days of territorial settlement.  The party passed unmolested through a camp of fifty Border Ruffians at Blue Jacket Ford on the Wakarusa river.  The guerillas paid no attention to them, thinking the three were merely an honest old farmer, his wife and his son, returning home from trading in Lawrence.

  Mr. Wilder did not know the mission upon which he was going, according to the story he told of it to The Tribune two years ago.  He said:

  “I didn’t know where I was going, or that I was to help Governor Reeder get away.  My brother came to me, and asked me to drive a buggy for the governor and Mrs. Eldredge.  We lived on a farm adjoining Lawrence.  My mother didn’t know anything about my trip, either, until it was over and I was safe back home.  When she found out about it she was in a state of mind, I can tell you.

  “The governor was dressed as an old farmer, and Mrs. Eldrege as a farmer’s wife.  I went just as I was when my brother told me to go.  I drove from Lawrence through Franklin and crossed the Wakarusa river at Blue Jacket Ford.  There was a camp of Border Ruffians there.  They didn’t say anything to us, and we didn’t say anything to them—just drove on as unconcerned as we could, under the circumstances.

  “We reached Fish all right.  I left the governor and Mrs. Eldredge.  We drove back to Lawrence alone.  Fish was on the stage line from Westport.  The governor took the stage from there to the river and went down the river as a deck hand, getting away altogether.

  “That was in May, 1856.  I made the round trip in one day.  It was about twenty miles from Lawrence to Fish.  The Border Ruffians were still in their camp when I went back.  It was about half way between Fish and Lawrence.  Fish was down in the Shawnee Indian nation.”

  Mr. Wilder grew to manhood and was educated in Lawrence, where he began life on a farm.  During the war of the rebellion he was quartermaster’s clrk in the 2nd Kansas colored regiment and was in the service some months.

  He is survived by his widow and their daughter, Mrs. Anna Harris.  Mr. and Mrs. Wilder were married November 28, 1867.  Her maiden name was Eliza M. Crew.

  He was a member of the Masons, Knights of Honor, Woodmen and Workmen.